Think about those things in life you don’t ever want to miss and you’ll understand how Mike Alletto feels about Sunday school at the French Creek Ward LDS Church in Parker. He and his wife teach a class to 10 and 11-year-olds every Sunday.

“The only time we’d miss is if two things: if we go to see our grandkids or if I get stuck in the hospital because of a stroke,” Alletto said.

In December, Alletto was at Denver International Airport walking to his gate to catch a flight.

“I dropped my phone and I thought, ‘that’s clumsy,’” Alletto recalled.

Denver International Airport

He picked up the phone with his right hand but dropped it again.

“My right arm – my right hand was simply not working,” Alletto said. “At that point, I realized something is really wrong.”

Alletto, 58, was found slumped over on one of the moving walkways at the airport.

“I was kind of hanging onto the handrail,” he said.

Alletto remembers seeing a group of people rushing over to help. He remembers the ambulance ride and the worrisome words one of the paramedics spoke to the driver.

“She says, ‘you gotta get us there quick,’” Alletto remembered.

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Alletto was rushed to UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.

“He couldn’t move his right side and he wasn’t talking,” said Dr. Jennifer Simpson, a neurologist with UCHealth. “He also had signs that he had a large blood vessel that was blocked inside of his head.”

Dr. Simpson said Alletto was treated with a clot-busting drug and taken into surgery. A neurosurgeon successfully removed the clot from Alletto’s brain. Alletto remembers waking up from surgery.

“They had done the job so well,” Alletto said. “I remember looking at the hand I couldn’t use and I was able to actually move it and I thought, ‘oh, this is good!’”

After surgery, Dr. Simpson said Alletto was treated with a blood-thinning medication. He stayed in the hospital for a few days.

“He was really upset that he couldn’t go to his church group, but you know, his health came first,” Dr. Simpson said.

Dr. Simpson said Alletto was fortunate he made it to the hospital so quickly. She said stroke victims have a four-and-a-half-hour window to receive clot-busting medication.

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“The results had I not been cared for as quickly and as efficiently as I was would have been catastrophic,” Alletto said.

Mike Alletto is back to teaching at his church and hasn’t missed a Sunday since his stroke.

“I will do everything I can not to miss another Sunday school,” he smiled.

Doctors at UCHealth encourage people to think of the acronym “FAST” to help recognize signs and symptoms of a stroke.

“Face, arms, speech and the ‘t’ is for time, making sure that you get to the hospital quickly,” Dr. Simpson said.

A drooping face, arm weakness and slurred speech are common signs of stroke.